First Internet Protest

Today in 1996, “24 Hours in Cyberspace” was the largest one-day online event up to that date.

Time Magazine:

“Rick Smolan’s 24 Hours In Cyberspace was supposed to be a round-the-clock, planet-spanning online party, a feel-good cyberfest celebrating the paradigm-shifting possibilities of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Smolan, the photographer and entrepreneur behind the hugely successful Day in the Life series of photo books that have documented everyday life in Spain, Japan, Australia, the U.S.S.R and the U.S., hoped to do the same for the growing world of interconnected computers.

But by coincidence–and a turn of political events–the 24 hours Smolan chose to document turned out to be anything but a celebration. For they fell on the very day last week that President Clinton signed a telecommunications bill containing easily the most reviled piece of legislation in cyberspace: the Communications Decency Act. The law imposes stiff penalties for posting or transmitting ‘indecent’ material online–a provision that would strip from online communications the First Amendment guarantees that protect the written and spoken word.

So, as Smolan’s team of 150 professional photographers (and some 1,000 amateurs) fanned out around the world with digital as well as conventional cameras trying to capture images showing how the Internet is making a difference in people’s lives, another group of Net pioneers was preparing to save the network from what they see as an all-out government attack. And while Smolan’s editors worked feverishly to construct a colorful series of Web pages out of the flood of photos pouring in to ‘Mission Control’ in San Francisco, hundreds of Internet protesters turned their Web sites black.”

LA Times, January 19, 2012:

“On Wednesday, some of the Internet’s largest entities blacked out their websites — or their logos or some of their content — in a protest against the SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills making their way through Congress… Wikipedia, the largest Web player to block access to its pages for a full 24 hours, reports that a whopping 162 million people experienced the blackout on the online encyclopedia’s landing page. In addition, 8 million U.S. readers took Wikipedia’s suggestion and looked up their congressional reps from the site. Google reported Wednesday that as of 1:30 PM PST, 4.5 million people had signed its petition asking lawmakers to reject the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect Intellectual Property Act in the Senate. Twitter said 2.4 million SOPA-related tweets were sent in the first 16 hours of the day Wednesday. The top five terms were SOPA, Stop SOPA, PIPA, Tell Congress, #factswithoutwikipedia. WordPress reports that at least 25,000 WordPress blogs had joined the SOPA and PIPA protest by blacking out their blogs entirely, and an additional 12,500 had posted a ‘Stop Censorship’ ribbon.”

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